Sunday, November 30, 2008

insecure: formless and void

Lily had a laugh like the sound the moon makes when it's too full, bloated, and pouring its syrupy excess over the tops of the trees and on down the mountainside. Something which came easy and often, flowing, golden, from her red-stained lips to my contrastingly pallid ears. 

Beside her, Lily's blazingly tangible self, I was black and white. Beside her, lying as we were in this clearing, side by side, I was little more than some ghastly, barely real, achromatic figure plucked from a neighbouring dimension and rudely transposed into that otherwise dazzling picture. We call this burn-through. And I was it. An unwanted, unwarranted image soiling that serene scene. She just has that effect on people, you know?

Lily talked, and as she did, her voice hit that taut tarpaulin of stars, bounced off, and rained back down on us. And I was soaked, right through my clothes, right through my skin. Drenched in all that talk of where she'd been and where she'd be going. What she'd done, and what she was going to do. Who she'd met, and who she planned on meeting. Shit, she hardly knew I was there, and even I was beginning to doubt that I was. So, in an ill-fated attempt to prove to myself that I actually did exist, I guardedly cast forth an utterance – a mutterance, really – while she was in mid laugh.

“You ever think about the Big Guy up there?”

She was still on, giggling and talking, about to outdo herself by dropping yet another big name, when she realised that I had gone and dropped the biggest name possible, and abruptly dropped off in mid sentence. Lily turned to look at me, sending a wave of jet hair cascading down over a beryl eye.

“Huh? You mean, like, God?”

“Yeah, God. Our Father, you know....”

“I'm no bible thumper if that's what you're asking.”

It was my turn to laugh then, and I did so with not nearly the magical effect of my companion. In fact, there was no nifty echo, but almost a weird absorption, rather. The trees barely noticed, and the moon nearly turned away. Not to be dissuaded, I plugged on.

“That's not what I'm talking about. I was just wondering if you ever think about that kind of stuff. You know, where we came from, why we're here, and all of that.”

It wasn't one second before that last batch of bullshit was out of my mouth than I was regretting it. See, I hadn't delved into the theosophical as a matter of purity, but, rather, as a matter of impurity. Lily glanced off into the tree line, and as they did, my own eyes made a beeline to her full baby tee, her tiny waist, and on down to those skinny jeans stretched tight over perfect legs.

When my eyes returned, hers had too, and she smiled, pulling a shock of hair out of her face, tucking it behind a bitty ear. 

“Can't say that I have,” Lily said, and leant in a little. She seemed to be studying my face. Her lips parted. I shivered. Then, she delivered the blow. “Hey, I never noticed how cute you could be.”

That hurt. Try as I might, I'm sure I wasn't able to hide my anguish.

“Th-thanks,” I stammered. Then, neurons fired at a connexion, and, against my better judgement, I was off again.

“That, uh, that makes me think, it reminds me of Genesis and the creation,” I said. “Have you ever wondered what God looks like?”

“No,” she sighed, slumping back into her original distracted position. “I guess he's, like, a powerful ghostly dude who's everywhere all at once?”

I cackled. I actually cackled, and still the moon paid me no mind. I launched into the topic to show Lily that I was smarter than all of those other guys. Those doctors, those lawyers, those politicians. My goal, to show her that I was more interesting, more learned, more... exceptional than those actors, those musicians, those artists. Again, against my better judgement, I continued.

“Isn't it interesting,” I asked, “that in Genesis, it's written that God created Adam in his image? Taken literally, as a perfectly written book should be, should we not, then, expect the reverse to be true, and that God should be assumed to look as we do? Should we not, then, expect God to be made of flesh and bone as we are?”

Lily shrugged. She simply shrugged and offered a disappointingly non-committal, “Sure.”

I was losing grip. Scrambling on a rocky slope, too steep to easily scale. Hands grappling for solid handholds, feet slipping loose from fragile outcroppings. A steady slide of rocky debris beneath me.

“It's just really interesting, isn't it, when you start to really look at it?” I was desperate. Clearly. “I mean, isn't it weird that God needed to create Adam from dust? Eve from Adam's rib? I mean, he's God – why does he need ingredients?”

There was a smile again, but this time something was different. Pity, I think; Lily's eyes, two pools the colour of charity. Her lips, little more than a scarlet suspension bridge between treacherously deep dimples.

“Oh!” she suddenly exclaimed. “Now I know who you kind ofremind me of! There was this assistant Professor I briefly dated back in my second year of uni. All the girls were just, like, totally in love with this guy, but he—”

And that's how it was the rest of the night. Me, steadily crowded out by an ever-growing assemblage of ghosts. Lily, the centre of this spectral attention. So, I just settled back and listened. Not to her, but to the sound of jagged indifference. To the cascade of pale yellow light streaming through the pines. To the sound of God's dry lips cracking into a jeering grin somewhere in the Great Beyond.

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